The Town of Cave Creek is located in the northern part of the Valley, northeast of Phoenix and northwest of Scottsdale. It is just west of Carefree, which is often considered a sister community. Black Mountain is to the south and Elephant Butte is to the north.
Cave Creek has a genuine western attitude. Here you'll find many horse properties, saloons, and rodeo events. There's no shortage of shops here, so if you are looking for western jewelry, one-of-a-kind pottery, cowboy furniture, a cow head (you can never find one in Phoenix when you need one), a pair of boots, antiques or a lamp with horns, this is the place.
Cave Creek is one of the smaller incorporated communities in Maricopa County, covering about 38 square miles with a population of about 5,074 (2013 estimate, U.S. Census Bureau). The median age of a Cave Creek resident is about 51 years old, and more than 53% of people in Cave Creek have a four-year college degree or higher. About 32% of Cave Creek 's residents are 60 years old or older. The median income for a Cave Creek, Arizona household is about $75,458. (2012 estimate, U.S. Census Bureau). More than 95% of the population is white.
Not too long ago, Cave Creek's economy was mining and cattle based. In 1986, the Town of Cave Creek incorporated. The town still retains its rustic roots. While another city in the Phoenix area has trademarked the tagline "The West's Most Western Town," few cities or towns in Maricopa County can rival the western ambiance of Cave Creek.
Cave Creek Employers and Education
There aren't many (any?) national corporate headquarters in Cave Creek. The largest employers are likely to be government entities (schools) or restaurants and saloons. Cave Creek prides itself on being a community of smaller, private businesses and entrepreneurs. No, there's no mall in Cave Creek, Arizona. Chain restaurants, big box stores, golden arches or convenience stores -- you won't find them here, except for one or two that were grandfathered in before the town code prohibited them.
The Cave Creek Unified School District has five public elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Every school in the CCUSD exceeds the Arizona average for standardized tests (2010). Of the eight schools, five were rated as "Excelling", two as "Highly Performing" and one as "Performing Plus". There are no colleges or universities in the Town of Cave Creek. Paradise Valley Community College is the nearest college.
The Desert Foothills Library is one of the few public, non-profit libraries in the Southwest supported entirely by paid memberships and donations by individuals, businesses, local towns, and organizations. It is not part of any other county or city library system and does not receive tax dollars. It is open seven days per week.
Living in Cave Creek
The median price of a pre-owned home in Cave Creek is about $300,000 (2010). You won't find a sea of pink-tile-roofed homes in master-planned developments here. If you are looking for a place to live that's away from the urban experience if you want a larger lot if you are interested in horse property if you are looking for a community where people still get involved and people know their neighbors, Cave Creek may well be the place for you.
Cave Creek has a western attitude, but it also has an entrepreneurial spirit. Most of the businesses are locally owned and operated; you won't find many chain operations here. Locals and tourists, long-time ranchers and new residents -- they all seem to get along while planning for the future of Cave Creek.
For some, Cave Creek life is dominated by equestrian activities. Rodeo events, Wild West Days, feed & tack shops, stables, saddleries, horse training, horse shows -- if horses are your passion, you'll be at home in Cave Creek.
There are no shopping malls in Cave Creek. For those, try the Outlets at Anthem (about 20 miles away) or Desert Ridge Marketplace (about 12 miles).
Cave Creek Attractions and Special Events
Cave Creek Regional Park is part of the Maricopa County Parks Department. This regional park ranges in elevation from 2,000 feet to about 3,000 feet. There are 11 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Park trails range in length from 0.2 miles to 4.8 miles and range in difficulty from easy to difficult. A hike on the Go John Trail, the longest, will make you forget you are close to civilization! There are lectures, trail rides and hikes here, or you can hike on your own or ride your own horse.
Spur Cross Ranch conservation area covers more than 2,000 acres of upper Sonoran Desert. You'll discover archaeology sites, remnants of early mining operations and a riparian area along Cave Creek, which flows in the winter. In the spring, the wildflowers take over! Arrange for guided walks to see the petroglyphs and historical areas of the area.
The Cave Creek Museum is the historical museum where you can get a real sense of the history of Cave Creek, from the Native Americans who lived here to the miners and ranchers that shaped it into the town it is today. Archaeological exhibits are also on the premises.
A beautiful and challenging golf course awaits you at Rancho Mañana. It is an 18-hole, championship golf course. There's a driving range, chipping and putting greens, golf shop, locker rooms and a full-service restaurant, the Tonto Bar & Grill.
The Cave Creek Balloon Festival is a popular family event with evening balloon glow, tethered balloon rides, live music and entertainment for the kids. Bring your camera!
On the first Saturday of each month, the Cave Creek Thieves Market will satisfy your inner need for flea market shopping!
Purchase fine arts and crafts or just wander around Stagecoach Village Fine Art and Wine Festival, just one of a variety of fine art, wine and culinary events held at Stagecoach Village.
The streets of Cave Creek come alive with the costumed chihuahuas, dancing zombies, food, drink, and music when the annual Cave Creek Wicked Halloween Festival takes over the town.
Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House hosts special History Dinners each year, where noted local historians and storytellers present programs about Arizona's colorful past and present.
If you are more interested in getting to know the area by taking a guided tour, Johnny Ringo's Carefree Adventures offers a Cave Creek town tour called Hidden Treasures of Cave Creek where you can become familiar with the local shops, art galleries, and restaurants while you learn about the history of this colorful mining town.
All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.
More Cave Creek, Arizona Facts
Cave Creek is a town, as opposed to a city. It is large enough to be a city, but to this point, the change to city status has not been undertaken. The Town of Cave Creek has a council/manager form of government.
How Cave Creek Got Its Name
Cave Creek was incorporated in 1986. Cave Creek, Arizona is located in Maricopa County. It encompasses about 28 square miles. From the Town of Cave Creek official website: "The Town of Cave Creek is named for Cave Creek, the small stream that originates in the hills to the northeast and flows southwesterly for 25 miles before reaching the vicinity of Paradise Valley. The stream derives its name from a high, overhanging bluff along its west bank that forms a wide open-mouthed cavern about two miles north of the present-day Town."
The area code for Cave Creek is 480.
The zip codes in Cave Creek are 85327 (for P.O. Boxes) and 85331 (for street addresses). Keep in kind that if an address uses the zip code 85331 it doesn't necessarily follow that it is in Cave Creek. There are parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Carefree and unincorporated areas that use that zip code. Some may even indicate that they are in Cave Creek when they really aren't. The postal definition of Cave Creek is different than the actual town boundaries.
More About Cave Creek, Arizona and the Greater Phoenix Area
Cave Creek has a few restaurants and saloons that are known for their western attitude -- the Horny Toad, Buffalo Chip Saloon, Silver Spur Saloon, and Harold's Cave Creek Corral are places to stop and get good grub and drinks. Some have evening entertainment, dancing, and bull riding. That doesn't mean that there aren't fine dining establishments here. Wear your dress boots to Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House and to Binkley's. They are both award-winning restaurants where the experience is a bit more refined.
If you'd like to try to sample them all at once, try the annual Taste of Cave Creek. That's a culinary festival each fall where about 20 Cave Creek restaurants offer samples of their creations.